The importance of relationships in business

There are ongoing themes in this blog of building community and the personal side of business. And, so often, these two concepts coalesce in building and maintaining relationships - whether with clients, colleagues, competitors, influencers, or a community.

* Maintaining balance: As one of my favorite professionals, Jessie Portlock, commented recently, "It's up to relationship managers to bring it [the focus] back to people." In business, it is the relationship managers who ensure that focus is kept on the client, quelling the potential for a never-ending race for profit alone. They are a bridge for the client and business, keeping them connected.

* No laurel-sitting: Just because you won a client once does not mean they will remain with you. There is always a competitor just beyond, strategizing to woo your client. Relationship managers continue to court clients, continue to ask questions, continue to listen. They know that nothing is static. Client needs and desires shift, sometimes as fluidly as desert sands.

* Identity: Relationship managers may have a title which includes terms like business development, community relations, or liaison. Or they may have another position entirely and simply see the critical value in creating and maintaining a relationship with clients. On this point, I remember hosting lots of community outreach events in the book business. In my last bookstore, ours was a gated, pay parking lot. Inevitably - as was one of the goals for our events - our events drew existing clients, as well as brand new potential clients. And our third-party parking lot attendants were critical to the success of our events as vessels to build and maintain relationships, because it was the attendants - not I, nor my team - who welcomed and bid farewell to our guests.

Effective relationship managers are an asset to their clients and their organization.


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